Bishop warns repeal of Eighth will 'alter attitudes to disability'
The Catholic Church has ramped up its campaign against repealing the Eighth Amendment with a series of hard-hitting pastoral letters from bishops.
In the letters read out to tens of thousands of parishioners at Masses over the weekend, one bishop warned that Irish society is walking into "an era of eugenics".
Bishop Denis Nulty told his flock of 200,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin that "an abortion culture fundamentally alters our attitude towards disability".
"In recent years, I have the sense that we are walking with our eyes closed into an era of eugenics, unwilling to look where we are going but still continuing on," he said in the letter titled 'Supporting a Culture of Life'.
Elsewhere in the diocese of Cork and Ross, Bishop John Buckley told parishioners that if the Eighth Amendment was repealed, Ireland would be the first country in the world to hold a referendum to introduce abortion by popular vote.
"Never before in history have we had so much scientific proof that the unborn baby is, in fact, a living, breathing human being.
"Will the people of Ireland decide that there is no safe place for the unborn?" he said.
He criticised political debates for failing to mention alternatives to abortion.
Dr Buckley also suggested many women who'd had abortions would have been more willing to carry their children to term if they had received support from people in their lives and from society.
On the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities and rape, Dr Buckley said the child in the womb was innocent of the circumstances of its conception and its health condition.
"There is no other situation in life where the ending of the life of an innocent person is the answer to a difficulty," he added.
On disability, the bishop said it was rewarding to see families of babies with life-limiting conditions show such great love and he also paid tribute to those who participate in the Paralympic Games.
"There is no cause more noble than to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves," he said.
Dr Buckley highlighted in his pastoral letter to 280,000 Catholics in 68 parishes that under the provisions of the Eighth Amendment, no life-saving can legally be denied to an expectant mother.
He said the Church had never taught that the life of the child in the womb should be preferred to that of the mother, and that a doctor can give any treatment necessary to either mother or child without deliberately intending harm to the other.
"There is a danger that people may confuse abortion with necessary medical intervention," he stated.
Meanwhile, Bishop Alan McGuckian of Raphoe described the removal of the right to life of the unborn as "a seriously backward step".
"It effectively says that they don't exist or, if they do, they do not count. That is a manifest injustice," he said.
"You and I have a right to our life.
"It is not given to us by the Irish Constitution or by any law. We have it 'as of right', whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick. All human beings have it.
"There is no later stage in a baby's development where we can say 'up until now the foetus was not a person and now it has become a baby'.
"At every point, from conception on, the baby has within him or herself the full potential to be whatever destiny might allow."